Coast Guard Administration personnel on Saturday arrested 31 Vietnamese aboard a Taiwanese fishing boat in waters off Pingtung County, and prosecutors have filed a motion to detain two Taiwanese who are suspected of being involved in smuggling them into the country.
After being tipped off that a group was planning to smuggle dozens of people into Taiwan, the coast guard in Lienchiang County reported the case to the Pingtung District Prosecutors’ Office.
A special task force was formed to investigate and it targeted suspicious ships and motor vehicles, the office and the Lienchiang coast guard said in a joint statement.
It dispatched three patrol boats to waters near Siaoliouciou Island (小琉球), where officers seized a Taiwanese fishing boat that was carrying 31 people from Vietnam, the statement said.
The two Taiwanese suspects allegedly sailed the fishing boat from Donggang Township (東港) in Pingtung County on Friday to pick up the Vietnamese — 24 men and seven women — from another vessel out at sea on Saturday, Pingtung prosecutors said.
Coast guard personnel later on Saturday boarded the boat for an inspection and made the arrests.
Coast guard personnel wore protective gear and masks during the check to protect against COVID-19, and health and epidemic prevention workers also carried out health inspections when they docked, the prosecutors said.
Prosecutors questioned the two Taiwanese suspects via video conferencing to reduce the risk of infection.
After questioning, prosecutors filed a request to detain the two suspects, while the 31 Vietnamese were sent to government-
designated quarantine facilities.
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